Navan residents hold appreciation BBQ for storm cleanup helpers

Live music, large crowds and burgers on the grill at the Navan fairgrounds are signs this community is healing.

The free barbecue, hosted by the Lions Club and Navan Women’s Institute, was a show of appreciation to thank volunteers near and far for their generosity helping with things like shelter, food, cleanup and repairs following the devastating storm that ripped through Ontario on May 21.

Navan was one of the hardest-hit communities with roofs ripped off barns, damaged homes and uprooted trees.

“We had people outside of Navan that were asking to help. ‘I have a chainsaw I can help cut down trees, I can store food for people, I can babysit kids,’” said local business owner Amanda Watson. “So this BBQ is to thank everyone who came together to help.”

Susan Cameron wasn’t home when the storm hit her property, uprooting at least 24 trees, some damaging the shed, front lawn and garden.

“Everyone came to help,” she said, holding back tears. Still reeling from the aftermath, Cameron says the cleanup would have taken much longer if it wasn’t for the kindness of friends and neighbours.

“I just don’t know what to say. We’re so lucky.”

Pathways and backyard trails still blocked weeks later and residents say it’s going to take quite some time before this will be cleaned up.

Just off of Trim Road, farms are still clearing the debris. 

“My son had lost his barn and side house and sheds,” said Mabel Smyth. “but we’re thankful no one was hurt.”

A relief fund for Navan farmers currently sits near $22,000. Organizers say they'll continue to collect donations, adding it may take months even years before a full recovery.